The stunning costumes give the show a decadent atmospherejohannes hjorth

A captivating and brilliant take on April De Angelis’ Playhouse Creatures, director Stella Price and assistant director Beth Davidson pulled together the perfect cast and crew to turn this play into an extremely worthwhile watch. Set in the late seventeenth century, Playhouse Creatures features an all-female cast and follows the lives of the first women to act on stage. Storylines of betrayal, love and loss weave together seamlessly to create an eerie tension juxtaposed by perfect comedic timing.

Opening with a spotlight entrance for Doll, the stage is lined with velvet, roses and masks, and the decadent, opulent atmosphere of the first divas in England is set. This is further emphasised as the play goes on, with gorgeous costumes, made up of corsets and petticoats, showcasing these proud women fighting for the right to be on stage. The lighting is minimal, which takes nothing away from the overall feel of the play, but instead enhances the charismatic acting and draws the audience further into the lives of the women trying to make a name for themselves in theatre. Although the lighting is nominal, it is used impeccably, with spotlights highlighting plays within the play and giving the characters’ acting abilities the full attention they deserve. The show’s use of music during the set changes was also extremely well done, serving to reinforce the context of seventeenth century struggles.

Doll, played by Posey Mehta, provides brilliant comedic relief to a play which is running high with the tensions of everyday life, exacerbated by the visceral need shown by the characters to be the best in their niche. The self-obsessed nature of the characters is made clear through a fantastic script and its brilliant interpretation by the cast. This melodramatic collection of characters inevitably grasps the audience’s attention and sympathy, especially when they band together in individual times of trouble. While the play is hilarious at points, the characters' true personalities are shown during their weakest moments; climaxes of tension in the second half result in massive clashes of personality. Indeed, at certain moments, the play is extremely hard to watch, particularly when Mrs Farley, played by Jessi Stritch, goes through the harrowing experience of a failed abortion and subsequent poverty because of it. While the cast are extremely adept at emphasising the melodrama and comedy within the play, the second act truly showcases their varied talents with its more serious tone.

Playhouse Creatures is, without a doubt, a necessary watch. The mesmerising acting of the cast, and the seamless work of the crew result in an entrancing play which leaves the audience with a sense of just how much fame can cost.

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